Sunday 13 September 2015

Public Image Limited - What The World Needs Now

The debut album by Public Image is one of those un-impeachable debuts - every moment of every track sounds so vital, so important, so "real" - like the authors actually cared about what they were doing, not assembling stuff and then sticking in some filler to make up time and appease their record company overlords.
I have bought and enjoyed every subsequent Public Image Limited Release - maybe not on first listen, but they all get under your skin eventually.  But, to my ears, none have surpassed the debut outing.
However, with the release of "What The World Needs Now", I think there is some very close competition.

Opening with one of the many songs on this album which are unlikely to get played on the radio (only in edited form), "Double Trouble" sees John Lydon in fine over-enunciating form, backed by Lu Edmonds relentless guitar and solid, thundering, rhythm backing from Scott Firth and drummer Bruce Smith.
A broken toilet resulting in an argument with your partner may not seem like song material, but it works perfectly.  As does the invokation of mundanity "Domestos Is ... Domestic Bliss" - surely a phrase to adorn a thousand T-Shirts (or to put John back in the world of 30 second TV appearances).
The music is insistent, repetitious, looping and compliments the sometimes barbed, sometimes humourous, always onest and straightforward lyrics perfectly.
There is the snarling PiL on "Know Now" layed over a razor sharp metallic guitar riff, the attack on the hypocrisy of the US (and probably the world!).  There are musings on life, and what it has to offer ("C'est La Vie", "Spice Of Choice") and almost perfect pop (within the confines of PiL, obviously) with an echo of T.Rex and David Bowie ("The One").
"Big Blue Sky" is almost Prog-Dub with a spoken delivery, before exploding into a grandiose, almost epic chorus. "Whole Lifetime" finds our narrator still trying to make sense of everything, before two 'State Of The Nation' addresses under the titles of "I'm Not Satisfied" and "Corporate".
The album closes with "Shoom" - a tirade of confrontational swearing set over a insistent dance beat.  It is delivered with force and spite, but also contains great humour and doesn't sound like a purposeful or gratuitous exercise.  You get the feeling this could also be titled "I'm Not Satisfied Part II" and is a venting of all life's frustrations wrapped in in a collection of Bollocks, Tits and Fucks.

The whole album sounds more cohesive and complete than previous outing 'This Is PiL'.
The band sound in rude health - still railing against hypocrisy, stupidity and the perceived ills of the world.  Still imploring us all to think and be ourselves.  This album is proof of what being and doing what you want is the only way forward.
Leading up to the release, John Lydon declared that this was his best work for 30-odd years.  Common marketing speak it may sound like, but I think he was absolutely right
No-one can really say, definitively, what the world needs now, but what the world has GOT is Public Image Limited - long may they continue on this form.

Double Trouble

The One